BACOLOD CITY, Philippines — Drivers in Negros Occidental and its capital city Bacolod will stage a two-day transport strike from Monday, March 21 to March 22 to protest skyrocketing prices of petroleum products.
Members of the three major transport groups in the province – United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC), Federation of Bacolod Drivers Association, and Sentrong Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Negros – said they expect to paralyze 100% of the public transport here on Monday and Tuesday during the “People’s Holiday.”
While expressing sympathy for the transport sector, the city government and the Negros Occidental provincial government said they would provide rides for affected workers to ensure the delivery of services.
Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz II said that vehicles from the Capitol Cab Service and buses will be made available for its employees.
The office of Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia said it will offer its “Libre Sakay ” program for all Bacolodnons.
The mayor also said it will be “business as usual” at the City Government Center during the strike.
“Your city government commiserates with the transport groups’ sentiments and disappointments. We express our solidarity with you as you call on national agencies to provide some relief to an already difficult situation that is further compounded by the current health crisis,” he said.
“I reiterate my call for sobriety. Let us also show respect for other stakeholders, who may not join the protest action,” Leonardia said.
Diego Malacad, secretary-general of UNDOC, said Friday, March 18, that they will push through with the strike, even after Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said there could be a big-time rollback in fuel prices next week.
He said that 17 rally centers will be set up across the province during the two-day strike as he called on the public to support the protest action and stay in their homes.
The groups are calling on the government to stop the implementation of the value-added tax and the excise tax on fuel, and release additional fuel subsidies.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved the proposed P200 monthly subsidy for indigent families for one year to ease the impact of the surging fuel prices.
Local consumer and labor groups, as well as the Social Action Center, have signified their support for the two-day strike.
City Administrator Edward Joseph Cuansing said the LGU has allocated nine service vehicles that would ply seven point-to-point routes for residents who need rides.
The pickup points will be at the following: Barangay Bata (Bangga Sawmill); Barangay Alangilan (Plaza); Barangay Sum-ag (near the public cemetery); Barangay Mansilingan (Mormons Church); Barangay Handumanan (Police Station 10) via Alijis; Barangay Estefania (Savemore) and Barangay Banago.
All vehicles will take-off at 4 am. The drop-off point will be at the Bacolod City Public Plaza, Cuansing added. – Rappler.com